Discovering Patagonia unveils a treasure trove of awe-inspiring natural marvels and thrilling escapades. In this list, I present my top 20 things to do in Patagonia. From embarking on the legendary W-trek in Torres del Paine to observing penguins at Punta Tombo, each experience has been personally selected and holds a place on this list.

I am NOT sponsored by any country’s ministry of tourism, so this is my 100% honest review of the things to do in Patagonia.

Read more: how many days to spend in Patagonia?

Things to do in Patagonia

1. Hiking in Torres del Paine National Park

Let’s start with the most popular but amazing hiking adventure in Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia. The closest city is Puerto Natales in Chile, and from there, you can easily catch a bus to the national park.

There are two main hiking routes: the W-trek and the O-circuit trek. Both offer stunning views of glaciers and beautiful blue lakes. The W-trek is a bit easier and takes about four nights or five days to complete but still, it is 74 kilometers (46 miles) long. A moderate to good condition is advised.

It is absolutely one of the most spectacular trials in the world and therefore my number one in the list of top things to do in Patagonia.

W trekking in Torres del Paine top things to do in Patagonia
W-trekking in Torres del Paine

2. Perito Moreno Glacier

The Perito Moreno glacier is Argentina’s most famous spot found in the Los Glaciares National Park. It’s a great day trip from El Calafate, only 74 km (45 miles) away. This glacier is huge, covering about 250 square kilometers (97 square miles), and it’s still growing, unlike many others.

Sometimes, big pieces of ice break off from the glacier and fall into the water below, making an amazing natural show.

There are lots of things to do near the Perito Moreno glacier. I’ve listed them all in my article “The Tours in El Calafate You Must Do “. One thing you should definitely try is the Safari Azul!

Tours in El Calafate to do
Perito Moreno Glacier

3. Visit El Chaltén

El Chaltén is a picturesque village nestled in the heart of Los Glaciares National Park. It sits amidst breathtaking natural scenery, surrounded by towering peaks, glaciers, and crystal-clear rivers. Accessible by bus from El Calafate, the nearest major town.

It is known as the “Trekking Capital of Argentina” with the iconic trial Laguna de los Tres. I wrote down my experience and tips in this article (read more).

Beyond hiking, you can partake in activities such as birdwatching, fly fishing, and horseback riding amidst the area’s natural splendor.

The little village has restaurants, hike gear rental service, and small hotels. I suggest booking well in advance your accommodation. There is almost no cellular connection in El Chaltén which lets you be disconnected from the world for a couple of days.

Things You Need to Know Before Visiting Patagonia
El Chaltén with the Fitz Roy behind

4. Hike Mount Fitz Roy and Laguna de los Tres

Let’s talk about the fourth thing to do in Patagonia, which is visiting El Chaltén. My favorite activity there is hiking to Laguna de los Tres. I’ve done this hike three times already, and each time, I’m amazed by how beautiful it is. Read my article with essential tips here. 

The hike is about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) long one-way and usually takes around 4 hours. If you want to do the hike in one day, it’ll take about 9 hours.

You can start the trail from the edge of El Chaltén or near the Patagonia Eco Domes and Hostería El Pilar.

Before you start the Laguna de los Tres hike, make sure to check the local weather using a weather app. Also, if you’re hiking in September or October, right after winter, it’s a good idea to bring crampons with you.

Hike Mount Fitz Roy Laguna de los Tres
Stunning view on Mount Fitz Roy

5. Explore the Marble Caves

The Marble Caves in Chile are situated in the Aysén region of Chile, near the town of Puerto Río Tranquilo, and are most stunning on sunny days when the blue water reflects onto the marble stone. The unique marble formations were sculpted by the erosive action of the lake’s waters over thousands of years.

It’s definitely a must-do if you enjoy kayaking, which I’d suggest over a boat trip. The sight is incredibly beautiful, though I expected to see more marble caves. You might miss some of the effect when the sun goes down.

Marble Caves in Patagonia Chile

6. Whale watching in Puerto Madryn

Very impressive to watch whales swimming so close to you in Argentina’s Peninsula Valdes. Watching whales in Patagonia is one of the best things to do in Puerto Madryn. It’s not just about when to see them, but also where you need to be to spot the whales.

The best moment for whale watching in Argentina is from June till December.

I suggest going on the boat trip from Puerto Piramides. Some companies also offer a submarine experience, but in my opinion, it’s a bit overrated. I wrote an article with more in-depth information about whale watching.

Whale watching in Argentina things to do
Whale watching in Argentina. Read my in-depth guide for more info

7. The 7 lakes in Bariloche

My first stop in Patagonia was San Carlos de Bariloche. It’s a beautiful place with lots of lakes. You can go hiking from there, like on the “Refugio Frey” trail, which you can do in just one day.

Some people say Bariloche is like Switzerland in Argentina, but that’s a bit much. Bariloche has its own style, but once you leave the lake area, you’re back in the Patagonian desert.

It’s good to stay in Bariloche for 2-3 days. You can rent a car and drive along the 7 Lakes Route to San Martin de los Andes, or you can visit Cerro Tronador (further detailed below).

Bariloche is also a perfect destination in winter with the ski area Cerro Catedral. More about skiing in Patagonia you find here.

Lakes in BarilocheView from a lodge in Bariloche

8. Penguin Watching in Punta Tombo

Punta Tombo hosts a large population of Magellanic penguins, drawn here each year for breeding. The prime time to witness these penguins in action is during their breeding season, spanning from September to April. The site offers carefully tended walking paths, enabling visitors to observe the penguins up close while respecting their natural environment.

Punta Tombo is a 2.5-hour drive from Puerto Madryn. Many visitors choose to pair this excursion with whale watching, but each activity typically requires a full day to fully enjoy.

Punta Tombo Pengiun watching Argentina
Pengiun watching in Punta Tombo

9. Drive on the Carretera Austral

The Carretera Austral spans 1,240 kilometers (770 miles) across the wild and rugged landscapes of Chilean Patagonia, starting from Puerto Montt in the north and reaching Villa O’Higgins in the south.

Its awe-inspiring scenery is a major attraction, taking travelers through dense forests, alongside untouched rivers and lakes, and beneath majestic snow-capped peaks.

Journeying along the Carretera Austral means immersing oneself in some of Chile’s most remote areas, where vast expanses of wilderness await exploration. This allure appeals especially to adventurous travelers eager to discover off-the-beaten-path destinations.

Carretera Austral Patagonia Chile thing to do
Carretera Austral in Chile

9. Tierra del Fuego National Park

When exploring Argentina, it’s the perfect opportunity to journey to the southernmost reaches, often dubbed the “end of the world.” In Tierra del Fuego province, visitors encounter unparalleled natural beauty and tranquility.

On the Argentine side, Tierra del Fuego National Park stands as a favored destination, inviting guests to partake in activities like hiking, wildlife observation, and leisurely boat cruises along the Beagle Channel. Meanwhile, across the border in Chile, Alberto de Agostini National Park and Karukinka Natural Park safeguard extensive expanses of unspoiled wilderness, encompassing glaciers, fjords, and ancient forests.

The mildest weather arrives during the summer months, from December to February, with temperatures averaging 10-15°C (50-59°F). Conversely, winters (June to August) can be chilly and snow-laden, often dipping below freezing.

After the hustle and bustle of urban adventures in Buenos Aires or Santiago de Chile, Ushuaia and Tierra del Fuego offer the perfect retreat, providing a serene and captivating escape.

On top of that, you can eat there the best king crab!

Tierra del Fuego Patagonia Argentina

10. Cerro Tronador and stay for the night

Cerro Tronador straddles the border between Argentina and Chile, with its summit reaching an elevation of 3,478 meters (11,411 feet) above sea level. It is part of the Nahuel Huapi National Park.

Cerro Tronador is a popular destination for mountaineers and outdoor enthusiasts seeking adventure in the Andes. While summiting the peak is a challenging endeavor that requires technical climbing skills and equipment, there are also less demanding trekking routes that offer breathtaking views of the mountain and surrounding landscape.

The best part about Cerro Tronador is staying overnight at Refugio Otto Meiling. It takes around 5-7 hours to walk to the lodge from the starting point. The trail is about 14 kilometers long one way.

Cerro Tronador Argentina Glacier
Cerro Tronador Glacier on the edge

More things to do in Patagonia

11. Península Valdés

Explore Peninsula Valdes, a UNESCO World Heritage Site on Argentina’s Atlantic coast. Witness breathtaking marine life, including southern right whales, orcas, elephant seals, and dolphins. Don’t miss the chance for an unforgettable whale watching from June to December.

Visit informative visitor centers to learn about the area’s natural history and conservation efforts. Experience the thrill of observing wildlife in their natural habitat while contributing to their preservation. Access Peninsula Valdes from Puerto Madryn, a charming town offering accommodations, dining options, and guided tours. If you’re planning to go on a boat whale-watching tour or snorkeling with sea lions, I suggest heading to Puerto Piramides. However, it’s advisable to make reservations in advance to secure your spot.

Map Peninsula Valdes Argentina Whales and Sea Lions
The map of Peninsula Valdés

12. Eat lamb or have an asado

In Patagonia, trying lamb or joining a local barbecue (called an “asado”) is a big deal. Lamb is a special food there. One of the popular dishes is called “asado de cordero,” which is basically a lamb barbecue. They cook a whole lamb over an open fire, usually on a special grill called a “parrilla.”

If you walk by a restaurant in the daytime, you might see the chef getting the lamb ready. It’s a good idea to book a table ahead of time if you want to try it.

Lamb Parrilla Patagonia Things to do
Lamb Parrilla in Patagonia

13. Kayak on the blue lakes

In Patagonia, there are some really famous lakes like Lake Nahuel Huapi, Lake Argentino, and Lake Puelo. They’re all surrounded by amazing mountains, forests, and sometimes even snowy mountaintops, which makes them perfect for kayaking.

Whether you’re a pro kayaker looking for an adventure or a newbie wanting a relaxing paddle, Patagonia has something for you. You can join guided kayak tours if you want someone to show you the ropes and keep you safe. Or, if you’re more confident, you can rent a kayak and explore on your own.

Here are links for Kayaking in different locations: Puerto Madryn, Marble Cave, Bariloche

Kayak in Barilcohe Lakes Patagonia

14. Parque Nacional Pumalín Douglas Tompkins

Pumalín National Park is huge, covering more than 3,000 square kilometers (that’s over 1,160 square miles!). It’s famous for its stunning scenery, like lush forests, fjords, mountains, rivers, and waterfalls.

If you’re into outdoor stuff, this park is paradise. You can go hiking, camping, kayaking, and check out the wildlife. They’ve got loads of trails, so you can explore some really wild and untouched parts of southern Chile.

Parque Nacional Pumalín Douglas Tompkins Patagonia
Parque Nacional Pumalín Douglas Tompkins in Chile

15. Dinosaurs in Patagonia

Argentina is famous for finding lots of old stuff, especially dinosaur bones. They’ve found some really cool dinosaur bones in places like Patagonia. In the Neuquén Province and places like the Ischigualasto Formation and the La Leona Petrified Forest, they’ve dug up tons of dinosaur bones. Patagonia has lots of different kinds of dinosaurs, including big ones with long necks called sauropods, like the Argentinosaurus, which is one of the biggest dinosaurs ever found.

Museums worth visiting: Carmen Funes Museum, La Plata Museum, Egidio Feruglio Paleontological Museum

Dinosaurs in Patagonia Things to do

16. Ice trekking on the Perito Moreno Glacier

Want to add some excitement to your trip? Then Ice Glacier minitrekking in El Calafate is the tour you need! It’s like a mix of Safari Azul, a boat ride, and a walk near the glacier, but this time, you’re walking ON the glacier for a whole hour.

What’s great is that the groups are usually smaller compared to other tours. Walking on the glacier is so exciting. I felt completely safe the whole time because the guides gave clear directions. Honestly, it’s one of the best things to do in El Calafate for me. Yeah, it’s a bit pricey, but if it’s on your bucket list? Just go for it!

Check out the availability of the minitrekking Perito Moreno

Big Ice trekking Perito Moreno Argentina

17. Fly fishing in Patagonia

Fly fishing in Patagonia is super cool! People love it because there are lots of rivers with loads of trout, and the views are awesome. You can fish in really clear water with big mountains all around. There are famous rivers like the Limay and Chimehuin, but also secret spots in the middle of nowhere. Whether you’re a pro or just starting out, there are guides who know all the best spots to make sure you have an amazing time exploring some of the most beautiful places on Earth.

Fishing in Patagonia near El Chalten

18. Wild water rafting in Futaleufú

Wild water rafting in Futaleufú is like riding a roller coaster on the river! Futaleufú is in Chile, and it’s famous for its crazy rapids and stunning scenery. When you’re rafting there, you’re basically tackling some of the wildest waters on the planet.

But it’s not all about the adrenaline rush; Futaleufú is also incredibly beautiful. Towering mountains, lush forests, and sheer cliffs line the riverbanks, making you feel like you’re in the middle of a nature documentary.

Check out here the available tours

Wild water rafting in Futaleufú
Wild water rafting in Futaleufú

19. La Cueva de las Manos

La Cueva de las Manos, or the Cave of Hands, is a super cool place in Argentina. The art in the cave dates from 13,000 to 9,000 years ago.

It’s famous for its ancient rock art, where you can see thousands of handprints painted on the walls. These handprints are like a window to the past, showing us how people lived thousands of years ago. It’s like stepping back in time! Plus, the cave is surrounded by stunning scenery, with mountains and rivers all around. It’s a must-visit if you’re into history or just want to see something totally unique and fascinating!

Check here the location of La Cueva de las Manos

Cave of the Hands Cueva de Las Manos
Cave of the Hands – Cueva de Las Manos

20. Antarctica

The last on the list of things to do in Patagonia is not directly linked to the beautiful Patagonia region. However, all the expeditions to Antarctica are departing from Ushuaia.

In Antarctica, there’s tons of ice and it’s crazy cold, but scientists and adventurers still go there to figure out its secrets. They’re on this big ship that’s gonna cross the wild Drake Passage, and once they’re there, it’s all about exploring the beauty of the icy continent. You can go swimming, spot cool animals, take walks, and the Antarctica expedition company plans it all out for you. It’s like an adventure-packed trip where you get to see some awesome stuff and maybe even learn a thing or two about this icy world.

Companies for the expeditions: Quark, National Geographic

Antarctica Expedition Patagonia


Since 2017 I'm living in Buenos Aires close to the heart of Patagonia. The perfect home base to start many trips throughout the beautiful Patagonian landscapes. With Secrets of Patagonia, I like to share honest information to plan your once in a lifetime trip. Hours of talking with local residents, traveling by myself and the experience of working in the tourism industry. I hope you will enjoy Patagonia as much as I do.

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